Though there’s a tendency to turn to lighter-style reds, white wines, and rosés when it’s time to cook and eat outdoors, there’s no need to put away the big bold bottles until the fall. Full-bodied, opulent and tannin-packed reds not only please many palates, but the rich flavors of barbecue and grilled meat can also help tame these wines.
Here’s a selection of Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet, Zinfandel and red blends to get you started, plus recipes for grilled steak and roasted pork spare ribs. So fire up the grill (or your oven) and proudly pour the boldest of reds alongside summertime sippers.
Board Track Racer 2014 The Shift Red (Columbia Valley (WA)); $28, 91 points. Though labeled as a red wine, this wine is 97% Syrah and 3% Mourvèdre. The aromas are wound-up and high-toned at present, with notes of purple fruit and black fruit, bittersweet chocolate and barrel spice. The palate is sweet and saturated with black-fruit flavors, showing the warmth of the vintage. It’s far from shy and delivers a lot of hedonistic appeal. Editors’ Choice. –Sean P. Sullivan
Dante Robere 2014 Estate Reserve Syrah (Livermore Valley); $38, 91 points. This wine integrates handsome new oak aromas with concentrated and powerful fruit. It has a big personality, full body, firm tannins, and a defining and spicy oak character that ties it all together. –Matt Kettmann
Recipe: Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
Bold and creative, yet not fussy, this recipe for an Argentinian-style steak will wow you with vivid color and flavor.
Château Reynon 2014 Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux; $25, 90 points. This rich wine is still young, but packed with dark tannins and concentrated black-currant fruitiness. This hand-picked blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon needs to age. It will not be ready to drink before 2019. The chateau is the home of the Dubourdieu family. –Roger Voss
Sequoia Grove 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $38, 90 points. Rich and robust with berry and currant fruit, this wine is rounded and full-bodied, with tannic weight and spicy layers of toasted oak. –Virginie Boone
Recipe: Pork Spare Ribs
Learn the trick to roasting perfect ribs in your own oven, and get the recipe for an authentic Kansas City-style BBQ sauce to go with it.
Trapiche 2015 Perfiles Textura Fina Malbec (Mendoza); $20, 90 points. Trapiche is doing all sorts of experiments with terroirs and soils, and this Malbec is from vineyards planted on top of clay. On the nose, it’s oaky, with notes of clove, mint and barrel spice accenting black-fruit scents. A full chewy palate deals spicy oaky minty blackberry flavors in front of a chocolaty finish with wood spice and minty berry notes. Drink through 2019. –Michael Schachner
Paul Dolan 2015 Zinfandel (Mendocino County); $15, 89 points. Raspberry and blackberry aromas and ultraripe, opulent, jammy flavors fill the big, soft frame of this full-bodied wine. It has fruit in spades, milk chocolate and raspberry notes that linger on the finish, relatively light tannins and a touch of richness. Editors’ Choice. –Jim Gordon
Volver 2015 Tarima Monastrell (Alicante); $9, 86 points. Toast and leather aromas support modest berry scents. This is full, loud and banging on the palate. Roasted blackened flavors of blackberry and plum carry a meaty note, while this remains dark and toasty on an aggressive finish. Best Buy. –M.S.
Last Updated: May 4, 2023